About Michael

Practical, deeply experienced trial counsel for employment disputes

Michael Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer and has represented employers for over 35 years. His clients include leading companies in the education (primary, secondary and higher), technology, retail and health care sectors. A fellow of the prestigious College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Mike focuses on:

  • Employment litigation
  • Employment law counseling
  • Higher education litigation and counseling

Mike excels at addressing the practical considerations facing clients as he develops litigation strategies, and he delivers creative solutions aligned with their business objectives.

Mike was a co-founder of Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP, which combined with Quarles in 2023.

Experience in Action

  • Litigating employment cases, including claims for wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, trade secrets violations, discrimination, whistleblowing, sexual harassment and defamation. Mike has handled over 500 employment cases.
  • Litigating class action lawsuits and claims brought by governmental agencies.
  • Serving as lead trial counsel. Mike has tried over 40 employment cases before juries, judges and arbitrators.
  • Advising employers on a full range of employment and workplace issues, including wage and hour issues, leaves of absence, discipline and discharges, layoffs, conducting internal investigations, dealing with union activity, workplace safety issues and regulatory compliance.
  • Providing training to client management teams on the full spectrum of employment issues, including conducting internal investigations, managing employees, sexual harassment and proper classification of employees.


  • Defense verdict in first-of-its-kind jury trial on fraud claims against law school.
  • Achieved dismissal of wrongful termination lawsuit for public school.
  • Achieved summary judgment for university in breach of contract and defamation lawsuit.
  • Achieved dismissal of Title VII lawsuits for a university and a public school.
  • Defeated class certification of multiple educational fraud cases.
  • Obtained anti-SLAPP judgment and fee award in defamation case.
  • Achieved dismissal of education fraud claims against educational institution.
  • Jury trial to defense verdict in national origin and race discrimination claims.
  • Jury trial to defense verdict of claims of sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Jury trial to defense verdict of Title VII discrimination claim based on national origin and/or gender relating to the termination of plaintiff’s employment.
  • Achieved judgment for defendant in $12 million ERISA arbitration for defense contractor.

Professional Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers in America® (2006-present)
  • Best Lawyers in America® "Lawyer of the Year" (2016, 2019, 2024: Labor Law – Management; 2020: Litigation – Labor and Employment; 2014, 2023: Employment Law – Management)
  • Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating (2016, 2017)
  • The Recorder "One of The Best Employment Lawyers in California Not Working at a "Mega-Firm” (2006)
  • San Diego Super Lawyers® (2007-2023: Labor & Employment, 2024: Employment Litigation: Defense)

  • The Daily Transcript "One of San Diego County's Top Attorneys in Labor and Employment" (2005)

Professional & Civic Activities

  • University of San Diego School of Law, adjunct professor, teaching Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for 12 years
    • Frequent lecturer on employment law issues for industry and human resources groups
  • Bender's California Labor & Employment Bulletin, editor-in-chief (2003-2019)
  • College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, fellow (2021)

  • San Diego County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section, member
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys, member
  • American Employment Law Council, member
  • California Society of Healthcare Attorneys, member
  • San Diego County Bar Career Development Circle, chair (2015), mentor

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